The Moon shall never take my voice (2011)
In his latest film, Damir Očko presents three songs in an interesting interpretation through sign language. A deaf protagonist performs the songs in the solitary darkness of the stage, with sound and light as the sole interlocutors. Using sign language, she interprets episodes from the lives of three historical figures. Although words remain unspoken, their meaning is revealed through the interaction of movement, sound and light. In his latest film, Damir Očko presents three songs in an interesting interpretation through sign language. A deaf protagonist performs the songs in the solitary darkness of the stage, with sound and light as the sole interlocutors. Using sign language, she interprets episodes from the lives of three historical figures. Although words remain unspoken, their meaning is revealed through the interaction of movement, sound and light. The first song takes us back to New York in 1910 where Gustav Mahler is observing a funeral procession from his hotel window. The unsettling rhythm of the military drum leaves a strong impression on Mahler. The long intervals of silence between drum strokes would later form a prominent part of his unfinished Tenth Symphony. At the centre of the second song is John Cage’s visit to Harvard’s anechoic chamber where there is no reflection of sound waves, as the walls, floor and ceiling absorb all sounds. Amidst complete silence, Cage unexpectedly heard the sound of his own body – his nervous and circulatory systems – and realized that absolute silence does not exist. Inspired by that knowledge, he composed his revolutionary piece 4’33’’. The third song launches us to the Moon & ndash; the quietest place man has ever been to. We follow the fragments of rare and partly fictional interviews with Neil Armstrong who talks about his failed attempts at shouting, in other words at producing any kind of sound, on the desolate surface of the Moon. It could be said that Očko’s film as such functions as an anechoic chamber, thus providing a direct response to and commentary on Cage’s experience. Since the space in which the film is shown can never be completely quiet, the viewers are compelled to concentrate and sharpen their senses. In this way they perceive not only Očko’s meticulous and sophisticated orchestration, but also the sounds of the actual space that surrounds them. Silence is impossible, Cage would say.
The Age of Happiness (2009)
“There will not be a single spectator. All will be participants.” (Alexander Scriabin) The key component of this film is Očko’s research into Mysterium, an unfinished work by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. Mysterium, conceived as a performance in the foothills of the Himalayas that would last several days, was to consolidate Scriabin’s philosophical vision of the world and achieve complete synesthesia. The viewers would become participants and through simultaneous stimulation of all the senses, followed by the end of the world, they would reach a higher level of consciousness. The protagonists of Očko’s film, in which the narrative emphasizes the theme of a failed utopian vision, are stripped of their sense of sight, which is why they can feel the world only through hearing. It is an eerie soundscape in which silence becomes almost deafening. Acoustic illusions culminate by forming into a fantastic device that destroys the protagonists, leaving nothing on the screen except the crystalline sound of Mozart’s piece for glass harmonica.
organizers: Culture Development Association (URK) + Mochvara Club & KONTEJNER | bureau of contemporary art praxis
concept: KONTEJNER curators: KONTEJNER | Tihana Bertek & Ivana Jelača
technical director: Marko Matošić
supported by: Zagreb City Office for Education, Culture and Sport; Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
media partners: net.hr, kulturpunkt, radio student, music biennale zagreb